By Michael Kitchens
For the Flores family, the classic automobile is a unifying passion that cements their relationship with each other. Raydell Flores has wrenched on cars since the ninth grade, including this 1963 Chevrolet Impala, and that passion has extended to his entire family. His brother, Myron, had owned the Impala since 1974. Twenty-eight years later, it was finally passed on to Ray for some much-needed restoration.
At that time, the car had served as an overgrown nest for various critters in some bushes up in Waianae. As a result, the car was in need of some serious TLC, something the Flores family was more than happy to provide.
Ray’s wife Gloria put in many long, hard hours working on the car’s body. Gloria also was responsible for restoring the engine bay, interior upholstery, dash, carpet, trunk and frame, and is currently working the door panels.
For the heavy mechanical work, Ray enlisted the help of his daughter, Misty. Together, they tackled the engine, transmission, drivetrain and suspension. Although they initially installed a stock 350, the car now runs with a 355 with .515 lift and 300/310 duration cams. The engine also features new heads, roller rockers, two 450 carburetors and the ever-popular tunnel ram. Misty and Ray also cut and fabricated the original hood to fit.
In addition to the engine bay, the rear-end was retrofitted with a 4-link setup to get the pitch set appropriately. Now, it rides like a Cadillac. Featuring Weld Racing Draglite wheels with Mickey Thompsons to lay down the rubber. Flowmasters also were added to provide some low-end growl.
While the vehicle was drive-able for about three years, Gloria suggested that they “do it right” and the car was set to be finished. The red primered look was prepped and the ride was sent off for paint, coming back with a gorgeous White with Blue Pearl finish.
Although, Ray and his family intend to add a few more goodies to the car, I believe that the most significant part of this car’s story is how it has brought a family closer together. Both Misty and Ray are adamant that their relationship is stronger and for the better because of this passion.
“It keeps you out of trouble — always wanting to know how to build what’s next,” says Misty, adding that it has changed her life for the better as well as reminding her of the value in hard work and restoration.
Ray firmly agrees. “It’s kept my family really tight. Every break time, every vacation, as a family we put it all into that car,” he says. Although Ray, Gloria and Misty mostly modified this vehicle, their entire family has centered itself on this automotive passion.
“Thanks to this car, my family understands safety and how to take care of their car,” says Ray.
I’m pretty sure that they also learned how to be a better family as well.
Owner: Ray Flores (with Misty Flores in photo)
Age: 50, 32
Occupation: Truck Driver/Caregiver
Hobbies: Fixing Cars (Both)
Year, Make, Model: 1963 Chevrolet Impala
Color: White with Blue Pearl
Engine: 355, .515 & 300/310 Duration Cams, heads, roller rockers, 2 450 Barrel Carburetors, Tunnel Ram
Drivetrain: Restored Transmission
Exterior: Chromed Pieces, New Badges, Custom Hood, Restored Bodywork
Interior: Restored Upholstery, Replaced Dash, Carpet
Suspension: 4-link rear suspension
Wheels & Tires: Weld Racing Draglights, Mickey Thompson: 165R15 86T Front, 29×12.50-15LT Rear